Monday, 10 December 2012

The Hardest Part

Maybe, just maybe the hardest part about giving is not so much in the giving. It's not buying or making this thing we call a gift. It's not the money or time spent. Though a sacrifice, I usually believe it's somehow worth it. I mean, really I love to give and I think that is true of most people. Here's the hang up though (at least for me anyway): I especially like to give to those who I think deserve it AND I (if I'm being really honest with you) want something in return....even if it's just a nice thank you e-mail.

Micheal Flaherty, president of Walden Media, while speaking to Marvin Olasky of World Magazine about some of the scarier scenes in the film, The Dawn Treader, explains it this way. Flaherty tells Olasky, "So we’re talking with the screenwriter and director and someone says, “Before Eustace gets un-dragoned, let’s have him fight another dragon, and as a reward for him fighting that other dragon and beating him, Aslan will un-dragon him.” I knew there was no way we could talk these guys out of having another dragon in the movie, so I said, “Why don’t we do it another way? Why don’t we have that fight and have Eustace do something incredibly cowardly—retreat, leave everyone in danger—and then Aslan will un-dragon him.” They looked at me as if I had said the craziest thing in the world, and they asked, “Why would anybody give somebody something they didn’t deserve?" (emphasis mine)

The guys that Flaherty is referring to are not unlike me or the rest of the world are they? We want to be rewarded for good behaviour and to reward others for their good.  But that isn't exactly what grace is.  Being rewarded for being good, hard work, responsibility etc. is nice and sometimes necessary, but is not a gift of grace. 

Grace: a gift of unmerited favour.

In fact there is nothing that a person can do to earn it and there is nothing a person can do to repay it. In the scene that Flaherty describes above becomes one of the most powerful scenes in the movie because it forces Eustace to see his utter failure only to be returned, in grace, by Aslan changing him back into a boy. What a backwards God we serve...extending grace while we fail and sin even in our best efforts.

And so when we extend grace this Christmas season....when we give to mirror the best gift of all let us remember that giving and grace go hand in hand.

 I heard over and over this very thing about giving from some of my dearest friends this week. It is one of those things that sounds lovely off the lips, but is hard to live....hard to walk a life giving the same gift of grace to others that has been extended to us.

Maybe there is someone that needs to be forgiven by you...that has hurt and harmed you on numerous occasions and you choose the gift of forgiveness. Perhaps, instead of giving a lecture you can give the gift of listening and helping.  You might be a mom, just like me, learning that it is not a gift to expect perfection, but grace to help those sweets see their need for a Savior and that is the only place perfection is found. Maybe there is a particularly hard relative and you choose to extend grace instead of bitterness.  It really could just be having a hard conversation with someone who needs you to be salt and light to them in this hard, dark world of ours. Praying for someone who is in a desperate situation...what a gift of grace. Maybe you gift the unexpected gift from the Compassion Christmas catalog even to those who don't understand why you're always talking about half starved kids around the world...grace! Because giving and grace isn't really about you and me is it? At least not if I'm giving in the way of grace it isn't.

Giving: it's about Jesus....the God-man who came in baby flesh, lived a sinless life, and died in our place only to rise again that third day. Yes, it is really about him isn't it?

772. unexpected grace
773. journey mercies: to WI and back
774. late nights and new friends
775. turkey, ham, potato casserole, stuffing, corn and lots of sweets
776. piles of snow
777. being reminded just how important teaching is
778. snow tires
779. Christmas carols and the message of Jesus sung off tune by our sweet AWANA group to those who might have needed a special pick me up
780. unexpected Christmas packages

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